For several reasons, I've been reflecting on my view of the role of elected officials. Perhaps you have shared an experience like I've had over the years when I think I know someone who is elected - maybe even voted for - and suddenly feel an alien has snuck into their body and I am left wondering what happened. I'm confused because they certainly look like someone I know, but they no longer behave or express themselves as that person. I have thought (and said), "Who are you?" on occasion, and am sad when I have to.
I view the role of elected officials on all levels - including local - as informational, requiring active listening, bringing constituents to common consensus, visioning win-win scenarios, and engaging citizen participation and negotiation with an attitude of respect, remembering that as representatives they account to others, not just themselves.
I get how invested one must be to devote the amount of time necessary to understand issues that range from engaging to painfully boring.
When the line is crossed is when an elected official begins to believe that this learning curve simultaneously elevates their own opinion above constituents, and they believe themselves to be, in what feels to outsiders, similar to a parent telling a child that "father knows best, just because I said so." The vital partnering role with the constituents of a community is lost.
Left unchecked, this attitude becomes rude, insulting, patronizing, arrogant, divisive, assumptive and noninclusive.
I see this happening in Glenwood Springs, and ask that our representatives look inside themselves and be honest. Have you crossed that line? Ask others (not just friends) what their view is. Perhaps community engagement is far less about people not caring and more about projected and perceived haughty and condescending attitudes.
We have some critical issues before us and everyone needs to feel that their voice has value and will be heard openly and respectfully. When we need parents, we will let you know. Otherwise, elected officials should respect citizens of this community and know they are us, no better or worse.
I am a proud American. I do not own a gun. My partner hunts and I value the elk meat we hope to get every other season. I do not watch crime shows on TV. I have no notions of defending myself against my government by owning a firearm.
On the Denver news, I just witnessed a man standing on the courthouse steps with a semiautomatic rifle strapped to his chest declaring that our forefathers gave him this right to protect himself from tyranny. Really?
Is this man going to gun down the government if he doesn't agree with the current administration? Does he also have a right to eliminate a public speaker that he doesn't understand?
I believe that the course of action to create change is to become involved in the system. Staying connected via the community, caucus meetings, council meetings, local elections and editorials can be very effective. It just takes a little more time.
I live in a country that uses language reflecting violence. A few years ago, Sarah Palin urged her supporters to "take aim," to put certain areas "in their scope." I thought these were metaphors for strengthening her platform, until U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gunned down.
This language is dangerous, and the fact that we still have no adequate gun control is weak and irresponsible.
I support gun control. I do not understand why our government allows the sale of weapons in our local classified newspapers as well as trade shows where there is no background check. This bullyish trade only guarantees that politicians are hit, children die and innocent people are sacrificed due to insanity unchecked and "loaded."